When you watch a National Hockey League game, it does not take a die hard fan long to notice all the sponsorship opportunities across the rink. Let’s hope that fan has gotten used to it. They are everywhere: on the boards, behind the net, in the stands, and especially on the bench.
Back in January, PepsiCo signed a five-year extension of their North American partnership that continues a relationship dating back more than a decade. PepsiCo has been a league partner since 2006 and also sponsors roughly half of the league’s teams. They have rights in the non-alcoholic beverage, sports nutrition and savory snack categories, and of course, they feature plenty of Gatorade during the games. You can see branded squeeze bottles atop the goals, in the penalty boxes and on the bench in all 31 NHL arenas.
However, there now might be a major change in the financial and sponsorship game. Less players drink Gatorade, and one Stanley Cup champion has admitted he orders another products that he gets delivered straight to his door. Washington Capitals star forward Evgeny Kuznetsov started drinking COCO5 coconut water, and is in love with it.
“There are so many flavors, and it just tastes good,” Kuznetsov told Emily Kaplan who did the study for ESPN. “So I drink it instead of … I don’t know, beer.”
As Kaplan explains, players are concerned about the amount of sugars in Gatorade, and could have now found the perfect alternative.
“Although Gatorade is synonymous with professional sports (the iconic green bottles line every NHL bench, as the company is a league sponsor), many athletes who are conscious about what they put into their body are becoming wary of its sugar content (34 grams per 16.9-ounce bottle) as well as the artificial dyes. Coconut water offers the same benefits and electrolytes, but it can be sold at Whole Foods,” Kaplan writes.
It has been revealed that Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid also swears on that stuff and is a company ambassador and gets shipments throughout the year.
COCO5 can be found in at least 26 locker rooms in the NHL, as well as 86 across professional or collegiate sports.
While the NHL might get worried about what it means for their sponsorship relation with PepsiCo, for now, players are playing it fair. One player told Kaplan he rips off coconut water labels because although he loves the product, he doesn’t want to be photographed with it because it is not Gatorade.
Let’s what it means moving forward for Gary Bettman and his precious money.